Begnas in Sagada

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Begnas June 8, 2006 Thursday

Begnas

Begnas is a rice festival and celebrated in the Cordillera 3 times a year. The first one happens during the planting season, the 2nd one when the first seedlings sprout up, and the third one around June, when rice is harvested. The revellers, usually wearing the traditional Igorot clothing, walk the narrow foot paths of the village and line up with their offerings (bread, alchohol, fruits, etc.) that is then equally given away as parting tokens. Pigs, carabaos and chickens are slaughtered as offerings of thanks to the anitos.

Cañao
The male elders gather at the dap-ay (a somewhat political/social unit within a residential area), then walk in single file up the mountain and come back to perform the rituals. Here, everyone - locals and tourists alike, is encouraged to join the gathering and dance the cañao. While tourists are welcome, this is not done for their benefit - it's an age-old tradition that dates back before the Spanish colonization.

Pinikpikan Chicken at Manang Tessie
When the cañao is over, the crowd dissipates and gathers privately to continue the celebration. I was lucky to be tagged along by Villia to lunch at Manang Tessie's house for the traditional pinikpikan chicken. The usual suspects were of course there - Aklay, Siegrid and Villia. Ruel (perhaps a future Mombaki) and environmentalist and fellow member of the UP Mountaineers, Ross Arayata graced the occasion as well.

Ending Thoughts
Despite tourism and progress, Sagada remains steeped in culture and tradition. Their ethnic values are kept intact and tempered by dealing with progress on their own terms. The elders have done a very good job in keeping their vision intact. A generation from now, Sagada may already be a bustling city....but they will continue to own their land and remain lords of their domain.

--- TheLoneRider

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